APPT Macau: Poker Gangnam style

November 08, 2012

This marks our sixth straight day here at the Grand Waldo Entertainment Complex, the first four spent with the Asia Championship of Poker Warm-Up event won by Jeff Rossiter of Australia, and yesterday and today with the start of the ACOP Main Event.

To get an idea of the layout and feel for things, join Lynn Gilmartin as she walks us through the venue yesterday:

Near that snack bar Lynn shows us are speakers which each day have pumped out the soundtrack for the ACOP, a rotation of dance-slash-techno that has consistently kept feet tapping and heads bobbing throughout the week.

Among the tunes punctuating our daily playlist is the South Korean rapper PSY’s infectious “Gangnam Style,” among the latest of those cultural products that rapidly became an international phenomenon thanks largely to a video that over the last couple of months has earned hundreds of millions of YouTube hits.

It comes around about once an hour, meaning we’re hearing the song perhaps 10 times a day. We’ve spotted people on the rail occasionally this week breaking into the horse-riding dance as it plays, too, as though momentarily possessed.

Like “YMCA,” “Macarena,” “Who Let the Dogs Out?” and other especially aggressive “earworm” songs that have come before, you needn’t hear “Gangnam Style” more than once or twice for it to stick. And stay.

Listen to the song repeatedly as we have, and it starts to take over the rhythms of thought in a startling way. One begins involuntarily to fill every pause lasting more than a moment with the phrase, mentally rehearsed in imitation of PSY’s distinctive cadence — “Oppan Gangnam style” — before moving on.

Of course, watching a poker tournament introduces other rhythms, borne from the routines of action. I’m referring to the ones produced by the patterns of cards being dealt and bets being made.

Such was demonstrated just now in a hand involving Korea’s Mike Kim and Kenny Shih of Chinese Taipei. Kim started today second in chips, but after picking up this pot appears to be challenging Macau’s Yue Hin Lam’s leading status as Level 5 comes to a close.


Mike Kim

In the hand, Kim opened from late position and was called by Shih out of the blinds. The dealer knocked the felt, burned a card, and spread the flop J♦8♦2♠.

Then, the pause. “Oppan Gangam style…”

Shih checked. Kim bet. Shih called. Knock. Burn. Turn K♣. “Oppan Gangam style…”

Shih checked. Kim bet. Shih called. Knock. Burn. River A♠. “Oppan Gangam style…”

Shih considered an extra beat, the music continuing to play as he waited, then mucked his hand. Kim showed one card — the A♦ — then as he scooped the pot offered some commentary on the hand.

“I loved my hand before the flop,” said the Korean. “I loved the flop… I liked the turn… I loved the river…. My hand got better and better and better.”

He then told Shih his other card had been a jack. “Why’d you bet the turn?” asked Shih. “You checked,” answered Kim with a grin.

The pair chuckled, moving on to the next hand. To the next song.

Martin Harris is Freelance Contributor to the PokerStars Blog.


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